Do You Have A Strategic Plan or A Laundry List?

Do You Have A Strategic Plan or A Laundry List?

In the laundry-list approach, program managers often either are paralyzed by the enormity of their undefined task or run into roadblocks when they encounter others working on related tasks with a conflicting approach. Silos create confusion, conflicts, and inefficient resource allocation. Turf wars—and general paralysis-- ensue.

The key to understanding how has little to do with developing a detailed project work plan and everything to do with understanding:

  • How your organization creates value to its customers/constituents
  • What capabilities the organization needs to develop
  • How these capabilities are built, borrowed, or emulated, guided by leading practices
  • Why they’re critical
  • How they will be applied to real-world business processes to benefit customers and stakeholders
  • Who will be responsible for developing and providing these capabilities

Are you trying to create a strategy you can implement or a list of nice things to do?

Turning your aspirations into results is critical. Government leaders have many options to avoid the list of nice things to do – get peer reviews from fellow Government leaders at other agencies, ask stakeholders for feedback, ask the employees who need to implement it if your strategies will achieve the results. Getting outside help is also an alternative – the external view can help you accelerate results.

“Why aren’t strategies implemented?” is a common question inside and outside of Government. There are many reasons for these failures, but senior leadership commitment and stakeholder involvement are particularly critical as strategic plans are developed.

Beyond these critical factors, the nature of the plan itself, and the “strategies” that comprise it, are typically to blame. This is not because the strategies are difficult, but because they’re not really strategies. It is because they are laundry lists of things to do.

According to Phil Driver, only 5-10% of public service strategies achieve the desired results, as most strategies “are merely aspirations masquerading as strategies.”

Does the strategic plan your organization is attempting to implement represent the results of brainstorming around some key goals, often facilitated with a simple question “What are our opportunities?” Do they represent top-of-mind reactions to urgent or chronic pain-points that are captured in a meeting and put into the plan? Do they represent a desire to get started on something, anything, to show progress? If so, our experience shows you may have a laundry list. It tells you what to do, but it doesn’t say how.

Blog Strategy

Contributors

Dave Stahlman |

Dave brings over 20 years of experience in helping government agencies, non-profits, and commercial organizations improve mission performance and organizational efficiency.  Dave has focused his consulting career in developing solutions related to business strategy, organizational analysis and improvement, and performance-based decision-making. He is adept at identifying the key issues facing organizations-- whether they be must-have mission capabilities or internal organizational pitfalls-- and designing holistic, integrated, and effective solutions to address them. A certified Project Management Professional (PMP), Dave links approaches for structured innovation with extensive experience in making innovative ideas practical and actionable. Before joining Arc Aspicio, Dave spent more than 18 years with Accenture’s Federal practice leading strategy and organizational improvement efforts while also guiding large transformational programs. Dave has also served as a civil servant for the Department of Defense and in uniform as a Surface Warfare Officer in the US Navy.

Organization Redesign: Is the Cure Worse than the Ailment?

Organization Redesign: Is the Cure Worse than the Ailment?

According to a popular management joke, new executives should blame their predecessors when facing their first crisis.  When facing their second crisis, they should reorganize everything. Jokes are funny when they’re seen as plausible. Reorganizations show action, produce change, and create opportunities for new leadership. However, are reorganizations worth the disruption?

Arc Aspicio to Host Design Thinking Forum: Creating the Future of Government on June 21

Arc Aspicio to Host Design Thinking Forum: Creating the Future of Government on June 21

Washington, DC, June 7, 2017 — Arc Aspicio plans to host an inaugural Design Thinking Forum featuring a discussion on how Federal leaders can innovate solutions to create the future of Government. Design Thinking is a human-centered innovation process that emphasizes observation, collaboration, fast learning, visualization of ideas, rapid concept prototyping, and concurrent business analysis, which ultimately generates innovation and increased mission outcomes.

Firefighters Show You Can Develop a Strategy While Fighting Fires

Firefighters Show You Can Develop a Strategy While Fighting Fires

“Employees at all levels are too busy ‘doing their jobs’ and ‘fighting fires’ to devote time or pay heed to strategic initiatives.” It’s a common complaint. Academic literature has confirmed that ‘firefighting’ takes up much of the manager’s job and offers extensive advice on how to stop fighting fires – and even how to suppress the urge to do so.

The SILab: An Invitation to Embrace Innovation

The SILab: An Invitation to Embrace Innovation

Government agencies and businesses must embrace innovation and strategic thinking to keep up with today’s changing society, rising demands, and complex problems. Encouraging organizations to fully adopt innovative thinking, however, is difficult. Organizations are often focused on their daily activities and have limited time to discover new approaches. In addition, employees often choose to stay with proven, mainstream solutions because they fear wasting resources or failure. 

Putting the Mission First in a Leader’s Agency Reform Plan

Putting the Mission First in a Leader’s Agency Reform Plan

Agency leaders have more than a little to do these days. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released guidance for implementing Executive Orders and Presidential Memoranda on Federal management and human capital. The Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce (M-17-22) directs agencies to create comprehensive plans to enhance mission focus, streamline operations, and improve workforce effectiveness and efficiency.

SharePoint: Unique Solutions for Homeland Security Partners

SharePoint: Unique Solutions for Homeland Security Partners

As information sharing has become more common across local, state, and federal agencies, homeland security partners need tools to manage this critical data. SharePoint has emerged as an information sharing tool that can assist emergency managers, law enforcement agencies, and others across the homeland security enterprise with the sharing of sensitive data with internal and external partners, quickly and securely.

Managing Change Using a Maturity Model

Managing Change Using a Maturity Model

The pace of change is accelerating. Government agencies, and their employees, must find new ways to support their stakeholders and manage internal operations in the face of changing mission expectations and potential budget cuts. Guiding the workforce through the change is messy and challenging and is essential to successful implementation of innovative ideas, technologies, and processes. 

Lost in Translation No Longer: Data Translators Bridge the Gap to the Mission

Lost in Translation No Longer: Data Translators Bridge the Gap to the Mission

Two main types of problems can make it difficult to make data-driven decisions: technical and cultural. Technical difficulties could include data that is messy, incomplete, or split between different departments or components. Cultural factors might include a resistance to change, an environment that favors trusting your instincts, or a belief that things are fine the way they are. 

How to Use Data to Drive Employee Engagement

How to Use Data to Drive Employee Engagement

When it comes to retaining your workforce, one feature correlates to 87% increases in retention and 57% increases in employee effectiveness. It is not compensation. It is employee engagement. Engagement measures an employee’s emotional commitment to an organization and willingness to use discretionary effort to achieve organizational goals. In other words, engaged employees strive to exceed the status quo. 

A Leader’s Most Influential Tool: Gratitude

A Leader’s Most Influential Tool: Gratitude

Gratitude is one of a great leader’s most powerful tools. It creates positive energy among an organization and the sense of appreciation permeates through the work the collective group is performing. Influential leaders listen to the needs of their colleagues and express gratitude. This helps them bring out the potential in the people they lead and inspire them to achieve what is most important to them and to the project.

The Design Era of Project Management

The Design Era of Project Management

Project Management best practices and methods continue to evolve to address the biggest challenges Government agencies face in today’s market. The increased use of Agile and the move from traditional waterfall methodologies is fairly common in Information Technologies. Projects use Agile methods such as Scrum or Kanban, and organizations invest a lot of time and effort to make this cultural shift on projects.